January 4th, 2008:
Faith versus anxiety. My major question has always been: “Did God really speak to me in 2004 at Faith Baptist Church and in my driveway? Then can I count on what He said? I must count on His Word and not just some message I think I received. Can I justify what He said to me with His Word? If the answers to these questions are ‘yes’, then today’s Streams in the Desert is a most important statement. The texts are from John 4:50 “Jesus replied, ‘You may go, your son will live.’ The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” And Mark 11:24, “Whatever you ask for in prayers, believe.”
When I am confronted with a matter requiring immediate prayer, pray until I believe with complete sincerity that God will provide an answer for which I will thank Him. I know He will provide an answer. Prayers that are empty of faith deny God’s promises from His Word and the ‘yes’ that He has whispered to our hearts. Such prayers are the expression of the unrest of our hearts and the unrest implies unbelief that our prayers will be answered. “Now we who have believed enter that rest” Hebrews 4:3. The prayer that empties us of faith focuses on the difficulty rather than on God’s promise. See Abraham’s prayer in Romans 4:19-20. Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding God’s promise to him but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but simply taking God at His Word. [For me personally, all this is true with the proviso that what Jesus spoke to me was from His Word and not from my own subconscious.] George Mueller is quoted as saying “the beginning of anxiety is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” Note that we must not have “faith in faith itself” but faith in what God has spoken to us in His Word or otherwise.
We never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us His promises in a quiet hour, seals our covenant with great and gracious words and then steps back waiting to see how much we believe. Ensuing tests may seem to contradict all we believe (negative PSA’s or blood in urine etc.) This is when faith wins its crown. This is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened sailors declare “I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me”, Acts 27:25. (From Streams in the Desert, Jan. 4th, pp. 17-18.)
January 9th, 2008:
Why does God allow us to go through difficult times and experiences? A moth struggling to get out of a small narrow opening in a cocoon needs the experience to strengthen its wings for flight. So why then does God not quickly alleviate discipline and deliver us? His love is farsighted and seeks our perfection. He disciplines us because He loves us and wants us to share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). As Christians, we are made perfect through suffering and to exhibit God’s glory through our obedience.
Jan. 11th, 2008:
As I have written, following my pelvic surgery, I went through a lengthy bout with incontinence. To treat this, I was forced to go to Johns Hopkins Urology on several occasions. During my visits there, my Hopkins surgeon specifically encouraged me to formulate this website. So what was a negative and sometimes painful experience, God used for my good and hopefully for others as well.
What could be one major purpose of being sick? This entry would have been useful in the introduction to this website. Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people says your God.” Isaiah’s mission was to generate and share comfort for the hurting people of Israel. Likewise today there are countless hurting and comfortless people who need God’s comfort. Illness of any kind can be a training ground for any of us before we are able to share comfort with another person. I may be asked to endure the same afflictions that are plaguing others before I can truly be of comfort and help. “I will be wounded so that in the binding up of my wounds by the Great Physician, I may learn to render first aid to the wounded everywhere.” I can relate my experiences of anxiety, pain and suffering as they are. “You will tell them how you suffered and were comforted.” As the story unfolds, God will apply the anesthetic he once used on you to them. Then in the eager look followed by the gleam of hope that chases the shadow of despair from your soul, you will know why you were afflicted. And you will bless God for the discipline that filled your life with such a treasure of experience and helpfulness. God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters. (From Streams in the Desert).
January 24th, 2007:
Does God withhold answers to prayers? Genesis 8:9-11 records Noah sending out a dove from the ark to see if the dove could find evidence of dry land. The dove was sent out for several days only to return empty-handed before finally returning with a small branch in its mouth. God knows exactly when to provide a visible sign of encouragement and when to withhold it. We should trust Him in either case. It is better when I can trust Him when visible evidence is being withheld. He wants me to realize that His word, His promise is more real and dependable than any evidences which may be revealed to our senses. Those who are inclined to trust God without any evidence except His word always receive the greatest amount of visible evidence of His love. Delayed answers to prayer are not refusals. Many prayers are received, recorded and subtitled “my time has not yet come.” God has a fixed time and an ordained purpose and He who controls the limits of our lives also determines the times of our deliverance. (From Streams in the Desert, pp.46-7.)
January 25th, 2008;
Are our days / life spans truly fixed or can God and our actions in life alter them? Psalm 139:16 indicates that God has ordained a specific length of time for our lives when it is stated that “the days that were ordained for me” were written in God’s book even before our birth. But this “life span” can be shortened by bad habits and seemingly even lengthened. In Proverbs 3:1-2, Solomon writes “My son, do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commandments for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”
January 27th, 2008:
God’s timetable for deliverance. My PSA test comes up again in two weeks after 4 months. How do I feel? Sometimes I feel like a prisoner awaiting a parole hearing or awaiting a clemency hearing by the governor. But then I have to catch myself and ask myself what do I really believe about what Jesus has spoken to me? What did He really say? a) When He said “reach out and touch the hem of His garment”, I know from the Bible account that power left Him. I also believe that Holy Spirit power was transferred to me at that time because since that day, I have been more bold in my witness. Even now, my foremost desire is that Jesus and God be glorified through my life and especially that all the physicians with whom I have come in contact, see God’s glory. I will not be ashamed to tell them either. b) The woman was healed. Will I be? I sincerely believe that God will either heal me, or keep me chronic for such a long time that physicians will be amazed, or that He will take me home via another more merciful route, e.g. heart attack. So when I have an upcoming PSA test, my prayer is Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
c) Deuteronomy 2:31 states “I have begun to deliver……Now begin to conquer and possess.” It addresses the waiting for God and our impatience at His delays. But sometimes we fail to receive God’s blessings He has ready for us because we don’t move forward with Him when He says “go”. Abraham had to leave his home, friends and country to obtain God’s promised blessings. The ten lepers in Luke 17:14 were told to go and show yourselves to the priests before their healing. This is most appropriate to me since I was told the same thing by Pastor Ed in July, 2006. The lepers had to start moving and “as they went, they were cleansed.” If they waited to see their cleansing before leaving, they would never have seen it. God was waiting to heal them and the moment they obeyed in faith, the blessing came. So I believe it is with me. The Israelites had to put their feet into the water before the Red Sea parted. The reverse was not true, they did not see the parted sea, before they walked through. We are destined to fight certain battles and we may think we cannot be victorious. But as we start to enter the conflict, God comes by our side to fight for us and through Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). (From Streams in the Desert, January 26th).
Feb. 4th, 2008:
Rely on God’s Word alone when the “what ifs” arise! I had my blood drawn today. Do I still believe that I am or will be healed? There is still that nagging doubt in my stomach but the anxiety level is much less. I have to focus on how God has taken care of me in the past. David often focuses on such provisions in the Psalms. I will find out in 2 days. There is always the “what if” syndrome. What if the PSA is 0.2 meaning that I am now resistant to hormonal therapy. The median time to resistance is 16-24 months and I am now beginning the 18th month. (I found out later that the median time is longer, even years.) My strong desire is that God/Jesus be glorified in my cancer case. When I ask why should God heal me when I see few instances of healing from cancer, I can only very humbly come back to the fact that He spoke to me in 2004 and to Marie and that we are relying on His Word, the latter is what keeps coming back, His Word, His Word, His Word……..
February 6th, 2008:
I long to be released from this bondage of apprehension and fear. How can this occur? This release from fear is a strong need I need to pursue. Why do I always hit the depths of depression and melancholy while awaiting my PSA test results? I get in a foul, depressed mood every time, always thinking the worst scenario. On February 6th, awaiting my PSA result, I find myself formulating the worst possible scenario, e.g. the cancer is no longer undetectable but instead shows a PSA of 0.6 and will be rapidly doubling again. I find myself living in this scenario, hoping for the best news of an undetectable PSA but secretly suspecting the worst. I need to be delivered from this type of thinking but I have no idea how to do it. My wife Marie, to her vast credit, tries to encourage me from Scripture and various examples. But seemingly nothing helps. I await the result today by phone or tomorrow in person. In Paul’s words in Romans 7:24, “O’ wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin?” I should instead be praying Psalm 139:23-4 which asks “search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” I need to repent and ask God to forgive my attitude of doubt and fear no matter what the outcome.
Streams in the Desert for Feb. 2 cites Isaiah 49:2, “In the shadow of His hand He hides me; He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.” There are certain processes that only occur in the shadow or darkness. Some flowers such as the evening primrose and plants (e.g. Indian corn) thrive best in the absence of sunlight. In the shadow of God’s hand, He is still leading and there are lessons to be learned only in the shadows. He is only keeping me there until the moment when He can send me on some mission that will glorify Him. Remember we are in His quiver which is tied closely to the warrior and is jealously protected.
February 7th, 2008:
The battle for the mind. Praise the name of Jesus! In spite of my negative thinking and anticipation of the worst-case scenario, my PSA was <0.05 ng/ml. Is Jesus in the process of healing me, is He keeping me chronic or has He already healed me? I don’t know but a weight is lifted. I have 4 more months of life or do I? Should I even me thinking this way? If I truly believe that Jesus has or is healing me or keeping me chronic, shouldn’t I think I have more than 4 months possibly? Why am I limiting it? But a bigger issue is my doomsday scenarios. I formulate in my mind the worst-case scenarios and allow my mind to dwell on them thereby putting me into depression as well as depressing Marie. Why do I consistently do this? This is an on-going, un-resolved issue at this point. Looking ahead, I can see the issue is beginning to be resolved in February, 2010 when I pray Psalm 139:23-4 (above) asking God to search me and know my anxious thoughts and lead me.
Meanwhile my current pastor in Florida today e-mailed Philippians 4:8 which instructs me to let my mind dwell on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. It is the battle for the mind, and our emotions will always complicate this process. It is a battle that we must persevere in, quoting and claiming Phil. 4:8 as if it was what it is, a “sword in the spirit” that does extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The problem is that the enemy seems to launch another flaming arrow the moment we extinguish the previous one. So the battle is real, and one we must fight with perseverance. In truth, all believers know of this battle. Sadly, many just live with the defeat. The victory has been won–why settle for defeat or depression.
February 12th, 2008:
The purpose of affliction, sickness? One day we’ll see the big picture. Matthew 6:32 states that “Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”. A young deaf girl was once asked why God has made her deaf while others could hear? She thought and replied “for this was the Father’s good pleasure” (see Matt. 11:26). Could I have said this with faith and assurance? Probably not. Should I be able to say this? Yes. Why? Because God truly is my Father. If I truly believed this, my faith wouldn’t proceed through its ups and downs. There will however come a day when we will understand fully (now we see as in a mirror darkly) and rejoice with Jesus in the overall complexity and preciseness of His plan for us as individuals. A poem cited in Streams in the Desert p. 72, Feb. 12th reads as follows:
“Chance has not brought this ill to me, It’s God’s own hand so let it be, for He sees what I cannot see. There is a purpose for each pain and He one day will make it plain, that earthly loss is heavenly gain. Like as a piece of tapestry viewed from the back appears to be only threads tangled hopelessly; but in the front a picture fair rewards the worker for his care, proving his skill and patience rare. You are the Workman, I the frame; Lord for the glory of Your Name, perfect Your image on the same.”
Also reading about Paul and Silas rejoicing in jail (Acts 16:16-34), God gives us each a song not just in pleasant times but also in times of heartache and trouble. It is not just for our help and encouragement but to demonstrate His love and grace for others’ lives. People are watching to see how our faith works in tough times. Can they see it in me????
God also may keep us in this uncertain season of life until with full faith we can say “God keep me here until you have accomplished your purpose in me.” It may be hard to acknowledge that His plan is the best and that we should see it through to completion. But it is the best. Our attitude will begin to reflect peace, contentment and trust in Jesus. Confidence in God will shield us from anxiety, because we are focused on Him and His promises of protection and provision. (From In Touch Magazine, 2/12/08).
February 14th, 2008:
Positive reinforcement. After getting a great PSA report (<0.05) last week, I had a first appointment with my Florida urologist. He insisted that prostate cancer was his “gig” and he should me doctoring me in place of an oncologist. But my new urologist made a contorted facial expression when I told him my PSA had been 50. That scared me again. Meanwhile earlier today I had been getting a stress test. While waiting for the test, I prayed a lot. I prayed for healing for my cancer and immediately the word came back to me “Haven’t I told you this already?’ The response seemed so vivid I almost verbally praised God in the office setting. God’s reinforcing spirit just seemed to overwhelm me.
February 16th, 2008;
David, from fear to faith. The Psalmist David went through times of depression, not hearing directly from God about his problems. Psalm 28 records contrasting outlooks. In verses 1-3, David issues a heartfelt plea to God for help and protection pleading that God not be silent to David’s cries. God probably did not solve the problem completely before David’s turnabout but the act of crying out to God and giving the problem into God’s hands changed David’s attitude from fear to faith. Talking to the Heavenly Father awakened a song of faith and thanks. In verses 6-9, it seems God answers. David thanks God for hearing him, praises Him and verbalizes his trust in God. David praised God for what He had done as well as for what He was going to do. When I have depression, I must focus on what God has done in the past. Trusting God may not make the problems disappear but it cuts them down to a manageable size.
February 18th, 2008:
If God (Jesus) really spoke to me about my cancer, how am I to receive it and act upon His Word? Streams in the Desert for 2/18 cited Mark 11:24, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours.” This is NOT God’s blank check. But a story is told of a young boy whose was promised a stamp album for his birthday by his grandmother. The birthday came and went without any word from the grandmother. A month passed and the boy’s parents speculated whether or not the boy was disappointed that he had heard nothing. The boy adamantly refused to believe that his grandmother had forgotten him. At the mother’s suggestion, the boy wrote a note to grandma thanking her in advance for the album. A few days later grandma responded that she had indeed ordered the album but it was the wrong one and the correct one had not been received. So she sent money to the boy for him to purchase exactly what he wanted. While the boy was trusting, his grandmother was working on the situation and soon faith became sight. My human nature wants to see the result before I step out on the God’s promise. But we should remember the Israelites having to insert their feet into the Red Sea before it parted, and Christ’s words to Thomas when He said “Blessed are those who have not even seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29).
February 19th, 2008:
Not my will but Thine be done. Advice from my pastor. To answer the question about what do I do when the depression and negative thoughts hit me before a PSA test, I met with Pastor Jim to get his opinion. He had prayed for an answer and this is what God gave him. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane had a similar experience. Jesus was both God and man. The God part knew what He had to do as a sin sacrifice but the human part was scared. (See Mark 14:32-42 and Matthew 26:36-46.) Jesus goes to pray that if it be God’s will, this cup be taken from Him. The disciples fall asleep. Jesus comes back three times to find them asleep. Each time He agonizes that if God could take this cup from Him, but nevertheless not His will but the Father’s will be done. This is what I should do. First, pray several times that the negative, doomsday visions be removed. Also get others to pray with me. If they do not disappear at first, keep going back to God just as Jesus did. “What do I do with this ‘worst scenario fear’?” Do I ask God to take it from me? YES! Do I purposely lay it down at the feet of Jesus? YES! Those are steps of faith and surrender. And as is true of our journey, the more we surrender, the more we are freed. The texts quote Jesus as saying the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Some say this refers to the disciples not Jesus’ fleshly aspect. But it is possible that Jesus’ agonizing prayer and appeal “if there be any other way, take this cup from me” reveals the weakness of his own flesh. He was 100% man and 100% God, a paradox we cannot understand, but true.
February 24th, 2008;
Remember all the times God has delivered us. One or the recurring themes in Scripture especially in the Old Testament is where God tells the Jews to keep remembering the past events wherein He has delivered them. In fact, He often told them to mark geographical places with stones wherein He had especially delivered them. In Isaiah 46:3-4, this theme arises again. This is applicable to us under the New Covenant as well. “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by Me from birth, and have been carried from the womb. Even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to your graying years, I shall bear you! I have done it and I shall carry you and I shall bear you and I shall deliver you.” The moral is that when I feel overwhelmed, abandoned, depressed, I have to think back to the times in my life when God delivered me or spared me from potential danger. And when I think of such times, I should put my faith in what God says in the Isaiah verses above.
November, 2007-March 2008:
Unexpected and undesirable complications turns into blessings. As many of you know, permanent incontinence can be an undesirable side effect in radical prostatectomy surgeries as well as other prostate treatments. Fortunately, when my prostate surgery was performed in 1995, I became neither permanently incontinent nor impotent even though a person is never exactly the same after such treatments. I also had radiation treatment which also did not induce incontinence. However, I was to find out later that radiation to the area of the prostate can induce scarring to adjacent areas which may lead to urinary complications at later times. In my case, as a result of severe arthritis in my right hip which had been replaced in 1991 after a near fatal auto accident in 1990, I required pelvic reconstruction surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida in the fall, 2007 This pelvic and acetabulum surgery involved the insertion of a catheter for some days. Following its removal, I became quite incontinent requiring two separate trips to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in late 2007 where my incontinence was treated by the same urology surgeon who had performed my prostatectomy in 1995. Evidently earlier radiation treatment had produced scarring in my bladder-urethral area which was aggravated during the catheter use in 2007-8. These necessary treatments opened up an entirely new area of ministry. During one of my trips to Johns Hopkins, my urologist reminded me that I should write a book dealing with my spiritual aspects of prostate cancer and our dialog concerning such spiritual matters which I had documented earlier in this website was resurrected. I noted to him that I indeed had kept a written diary since 2002. This was the impetus I needed to begin this website. In addition, as part of my incontinence treatment which continued at home in Florida, my wife had to learn to catheterize me twice daily for some time. Her “teacher” was an excellent visiting nurse with whom we established a fine relationship. The nurse, her two beautiful children and her parents now faithfully attend our church and have their own personal relationships with God through Jesus Christ. Marie and I also had wonderful opportunities to share our faith in God with my orthopedic surgeon and her staff in Florida. So what started as an unwanted interruption in our lives, precluding our planned trip to Norway, God used for His good purposes. God enlarged my territory as the book of Jabez describes. God also led me to my current excellent urologist in Florida. Since he is Jewish, I always refer to Jesus as the Healer along with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At this time, my Florida and Hopkins urologists both agreed that intermittent hormone deprivation therapy with Lupron (“holidays” for several months) would be acceptable as long as my PSA levels would not exceed 10.
During my several month-long treatment for incontinence, Marie and I had been praying that God would deliver me from the incontinence just as He was delivering me from the prostate cancer. I had asked Pastor Jim in Florida and the church elders to anoint me with oil according to James 5 as had been done in Maryland for my cancer. The morning of my “anointing”, I was reading Psalm 71 in my devotions when verses 17-20 leaped off the page resulting in a “hallelujah” moment. Verses 17-19 speak about God’s wondrous deeds in the past and up to this point in my life. Then verse 20 states “Thou, who hast shown me many troubles and distresses, will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” God was saying to me through His Word that just as He had dealt with me about my prostate cancer, He was treating my residual incontinence. By the way, at this time (early 2010) the incontinence has virtually disappeared without further medical intervention.
The moral of this series of “undesirable” episodes is that God was given the opportunity to glorify Himself through my incontinence as well as through the cancer. He has brought me through serious medical procedures to teach and encourage us, to reveal Himself to others and in general to bring glory to Himself.
March 9th, 2008:
Trusting God’s promises in accordance with God’s will. The verses found in 1 Chronicles 17:23-24; “Do as you promised…..that your name will be great forever”, relate to David wanting to build the worship temple the responsibility of which was to go to his son, Solomon. Often we ask for things from God which He has not specifically promised. This can lead to frustration and loss of faith. We are not sure if our petitions are in line with God’s will until we persevered in prayer and receive our response. In this case, in the life of David, he knew what God’s will and promise was and could rest in it. If we are also persuaded that what we are asking is in line with God’s will, then we can plead the promise from Scripture and say ‘do as you promised.” This is NOT “name it and claim it”. We must be absolutely certain that our request is in accordance with God’s will. Then it becomes like receiving a blank check from God; we have to take it to the bank and cash it.
When I think of what Jesus spoke to me on specific occasions, I am reminded of the verse in Psalm 119:49, “Remember your word to your servant for you have given me hope,” If I am sure it is God’s word that I am resting on, then I can ask “why will You not keep it? Why have you spoken it if You will not make it good?” You have given me hope. “Will you now disappoint the hope that You Yourself have brought forth within me?” Romans 4:21 states “Being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.” Humans often break promises but it is the everlasting faithfulness of God that makes a Bible promise very great and precious (2 Peter 1:4). Since the dawn of creation, God has never broken a single promise to one of His trusting children. God’s promises are built on: a) His justice and holiness, which do not allow Him to deceive us; b) His grace and goodness which will not allow Him to forget; and, c) His truth which will not allow Him to change and thereby accomplish what He has promised. (All the above is paraphrased from Streams in the Desert, March 8th.)
March 12th, 2008:
Remember God’s past deliverances. When fear, doubts or depression are encountered such as before PSA tests or when prompted to doubt God or when I don’t sense His presence, read Psalm 42:5-11, especially verses 5, and 11. “Why are you in despair (so downcast) O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Note also that in verse 6, David is reminded to think of all the times God has delivered him before, when he writes “therefore I remember Thee from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hebron from Mount Mizar.”
March 21st, 2008:
The model prayer. When I pray for deliverance from my prostate cancer, I should pray Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane as recorded in Mark 14:36. “Abba Father. All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”
March 27th, 2008:
Why me Lord? In a Johns Hopkins Health Alert e mail in which physicians respond to the readers’ questions, a 63 year old man diagnosed with prostate cancer inquired about whether to have surgery or radiation. The Health Alert physician responded, “With respect to surgery, it is fair to say that if you can be cured, you will be cured. By that I mean, if the cancer has not yet spread out of the prostate, and the gland is removed before that possibility ever develops, you will never have the disease again. It is not at all clear that radiation therapy can offer that outcome. With respect to potency, the nerve bundles are located within millimeters of the prostatic capsule. During surgery, one can separate them and still remove all cancer. It is more difficult for radiation to preserve these nerves while still applying the high energy to the prostatic tissues only millimeters away.” I wondered if there was an “exemption clause” since my cancer was so localized and it returned years later? I was told that “data at Hopkins have indeed shown that if a Gleason 6 cancer is confined to the prostate, no more than 10% of patients will recur in the first ten years. Your situation was unusual, but it is that 10% that we can’t account for using all conventional ways of analyzing and predicting the disease…….. We do believe that if the disease can be cured at all, it is only through early removal, hence the statement: if you can be cured, you will be cured.”
Why did God allow me to be diagnosed so early and then be one of the lucky 10% to have it recur? I remembered how angry I got at God and the world in general when I found out my cancer had recurred. This time my response was not perfect but better. I almost instantly remembered the words where someone asked Jesus why a certain man was born blind? Who sinned? The blind man or his parents? Jesus’ answer was that the works of God was to be displayed in him (John 9:3). I rested on that response. I immediately got down on my knees and again pleaded with God not to allow me to die of this disease reiterating my intense fear of the prostate cancer-dying process and not necessarily the act of dying itself. I have to rest here. God must have a bigger plan for this scenario than I could ever imagine. I am being challenged. Do I resort to “poor me”? Or has my faith matured somewhat (even a degree or two) that I can reject the idea of “why me” and trust alone in God’s purposes in my situation. I see God working even in my incontinence which is getting better improving 60% in three months. I firmly believe that God is going to use my cancer ‘progress’ or lack thereof to speak to my physicians and others. “O Lord, please do not let this be wishful thinking?” I pray a lot that if it was my imagination that God or Jesus did not really speak to me on that Sunday, January 11th, 2004, that God would please show me. He is not a God of confusion and I ask this request specifically. But He never answers with the idea that the whole thing came from my sub-conscious. His response is always “trust my Word”. I rest my case with Jesus Gethsemane prayer, “I know You can heal me but not my will but Thine be done.” How needy I am! I have no one but Jesus but that is more than enough! The whole world is plunging headlong toward the return of Jesus and then all hell breaking loose on earth. There is so much New Age talk proclaiming that God is in everyone and that the redemptive work of Christ is really not needed. The reality of Christ’s return in my own remaining lifetime is becoming more real every day. I really want to be a bond-servant and a visible example of who God is and what God can do. It is my strongest desire that Jesus’ forgiving, saving, transforming and healing power be seen in my life as an example.
April 9th, 2008:
A balanced life, are negative forces necessary? Romans 8:28: “All things work together for the good of those who love God.” Our lives consist of forces operating upon it, both negative and positive, often producing peaks and valleys. Why are these necessary in God’s scheme for our lives? Consider what holds atomic particles or planets in place, centrifugal vs. centripetal forces. One force attracts inward (like gravity) while the other force pushes outward in the direction of flying off into space. These forces must be precisely balanced to achieve stability and growth in God’s plan and our existence. (From Streams in the Desert).
April 10th, 2008:
Old thought patterns need to be dealt with. My incontinence is doing remarkably well. I saw my Florida urologist today. He and my Johns Hopkins urologist will take me off hormonal therapy (Lupron) in June. The June PSA value will not be so important but the one 4 months later will show if the PSA is rising. Then the most important one will be 3 months later to see the doubling rate. Some of the old negative feelings began to come back even in the midst of good news. Will God reveal Himself at this point? If the PSA stays low and Lupron is not the cause, then He alone gets the glory. But what if the PSA starts to double again fast????? Old thoughts!!!! I have to learn to deal with them!!!!!!!
April 11th , 2008:
Be careful what one asks God for. If we pray and ask God for more faith, He may more than likely answer by giving us more trials.
April 14th, 2008:
Jesus’ words can be trusted. Matthew 11:1-6; John’s disciples were wondering if Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah or not. They wondered if Jesus’ word could be relied upon and trusted? John was questioning his own faith while languishing in prison!!! Jesus answers them by telling them to relate the miracles they are seeing, blind restored, lame walking, and the gospel being preached to the poor etc. Two such events come to my mind. Once I was questioning whether Jesus had truly spoken to me and could I trust His Word about my cancer. The next day, I met John (a man from my Florida church) who told me about his deliverance from prostate cancer and in the second instance, I received a phone call from Pastor Ed (my former Maryland pastor) about a friend’s deliverance experience in Tennessee. I was questioning the validity of Jesus’ words just like John was. Such questionings are not failures of faith but tests of faith and can be answered in the same way as those of John the Baptist. Jesus did not abandon John to his doubt. He sent word of the miracles He performed and the hope that He preached. He seems to have done this in a similar manner for me on two occasions which were brought to mind today. In addition, a woman in New York with metastatic lung cancer for whom we have been praying called to say how doctors found no trace of the cancer by PET scan techniques. We have no idea who God is to heal or why but we trust in His ways. (From Our Daily Bread devotional, 4/14/08).
April 16th, 2008:
Just to take Him at His Word. Psalm 34-1-14 talks about God being our refuge. Specifically, verses 8,10 say to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. When things are at their worst, this is the time to take Him at His Word, this is the message I keep getting, “at His Word”. By tasting and seeing, we can validate and verify the truth of His Word.
April 21st, 2008:
God is abundantly sufficient. Romans 4:20-21, talks about Abraham when it states “He did not waver….regarding the promise being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Abraham looked at his old body which was “as good as dead” yet he held firmly to God’s promise that he would father a child. He glorified God for His sufficiency and was persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised. “The literal translation of this passage from the Greek expresses it this way; God is not merely able but He is abundantly able, bountifully and generously able with an infinite surplus of resources and eternally able to do what He had promised.” He has limitless resources, only bound by our thoughts, expectations, prayers and requests. God tries to raise our vision to a higher level with higher expectations. He is truly able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20. I must continue to trust His Word and what He has told me. (From Streams in the Desert, 4/21).
Also from April 21st, 2008:
Our life’s purpose, to take God at His Word and glorify Him. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, states “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Just like athletes are purchased to play for a given professional sports team, we have been purchased by Christ’s blood and the high price of His own life. What have we been purchased to do? According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”. The next question asks what rule has God given to direct us as to how we must glorify and enjoy Him? Answer: the Word of God. Again we must take God at His Word and be willing to allow Him to be glorified in our bodies no matter what we are experiencing. (From Our Daily Bread devotional, 4/21/08).
April 24th, 2008:
What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 paraphrases the definition of faith as follows: “Faith is being…..certain of what we do not see.” “Genuine faith puts its letter in the mailbox and lets go. Distrust, however, holds on to a corner of the envelope and then wonders why the answer never arrives.” I revisited my oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center (Florida) today. I told him again that God was taking good care of me but he simply smiles condescendingly. At least he is not negative or sarcastic. I am a good candidate for a Lupron “holiday”. I cannot help but think that when I go off Lupron, there are no drugs or therapeutics to help me. If my PSA remains undetectable, only God can get the credit. I am praying and believing this. (From Streams in the Desert, 4/24). [At the time of this writing, my PSA did not remain undetectable when Lupron was removed but I am OK with that; my faith is intact.]
May 1st, 2008:
More on the definition of faith. “God who does not lie, promised”, Titus 1:2. “Faith is not conjuring up, through an act of your will, a sense of certainty that something is going to happen”. On the contrary, faith is “recognizing God’s promise as an actual fact, believing it is true, rejoicing in the knowledge of that truth, and then simply resting because God said it.” Faith turns a promise into a prophecy. Sometimes I pray for more faith but what I am erroneously looking for in fact is my faith to be changed to sight. When I walk through the darkness with God, my faith only asks Him to hold my hand more tightly. God does not ask me to put my “faith in faith” but my faith in Him. I am simply to seek to do His will, “not mine but Thine be done.” I am to be a bondservant. Paraphrasing Jeremiah 17:7-8, the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord, is a blessed man; and, he will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit. Remember, the purpose of my life is to bring glory to God in all things. That’s why I have this life in an imperfect vessel. (From Streams in the Desert, 5/1).
May 2nd, 2008:
Does God have to prove Himself? So often, I am like the old Israelites who made quarrelsome demands for water in Exodus 17. It finally resulted in them asking in verse 7 whether God was really among them or not? They demanded proof that God was still supporting them. Too many times, I do likewise. This is a product of my doubt. To doubt God is to esteem my own understanding above His Word, a dangerous expression of self-worth. (From “Today in the Word”, a devotional for May 2nd, 2008 published by the Moody Bible Institute Press, Chicago, IL).
May 3rd, 2008:
Immediate results? In Galatians 6:7-9, it encourages us to “not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” If God has a plan or goal for us, can we take a shortcut? Wouldn’t God want us to attain it as quickly as possible? If God was to heal me, wouldn’t He do it right away and not wait for a future time? Not necessarily. God often gives a pledge years before He brings it to pass. Manipulating the circumstances or “helping” God in any way might get in the way of good things God wants to do in the situation. Part of the blessing will be the trust and wisdom gained while waiting. (From In Touch devotional, In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, GA, 5/3/08).
May 4th, 2008;
Live each day as a gift from God. I have started to read a book entitled “Prayers (morning) & Promises (evening) When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness”. The author is Ed Dobson who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He says that when he was first diagnosed, he had difficulty reading God’s Word and praying. His published thirty morning and evening prayers and devotionals are great. The first reminds me that my earthly days are indeed numbered and that I should live for today and enjoy it and use it to the fullest to allow God to be glorified. We usually live as though we have many years ahead of us but having a potential life-threatening disease changes all that. The problem with having such a disease is that we tend to live in the future, anticipating what will eventually happen. This brings on despair. But we are to start each day by thanking God for waking up, anticipating the day as a gift from God, focusing on what I can do not what I cannot do and to live each day to the fullest to bring glory to Jesus and God. His evening promise focuses on that fact that God is always pursuing us. For example, after Adam sinned and hid from God, God asked, “Adam where are you?” God knew where Adam was but it showed that God was pursuing Adam even though he had sinned. That is the history of the Bible through Jesus and beyond. So even when we feel abandoned by God, lost and unable to pray, God is not silent and persists in asking “where are you?” He has not nor ever will abandon me.
May 29th, 2008:
“Take up your bed and walk.” A new PSA test is forthcoming. Without any drugs such as Lupron, I feel like I am living without a safety net. But as I was reading my Bible and a devotional today, I asked myself “Who or what am I counting on to keep back the cancer cells, Lupron or Jesus?” It brought me back to 1995 when God asked me so clearly whether I was counting on the famous Johns Hopkins surgeon to deliver me or Jesus. Suddenly out of the clear blue, I sensed Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) telling me “OK if you believe I can heal you, take up your bed and walk!”
May 31st, 2008:
Lesson from the cardinals. Our computer in our Florida home is situated next to a window which is about 6 feet from where we have some hibiscus plants growing outside. As I sat looking out the window, I noticed a pair of cardinals, the male being red and the female brown. They were feeding outside this window on bugs and on our bird feeder. They have a nearby nest. The last two days I have noticed that the male actually picks up something in his mouth and feeds it to the female by placing it in her open beak. It all reminded me of the first day I was informed of my diagnosis when the sparrow landed at my feet in the driveway. God was reminding me once again that He takes care of the birds of the field and that I should not worry. I will be taking my PSA next Tuesday. I am hoping that it is still undetectable. I am praying and pleading daily that God spare me the agony of prostate cancer. Not that I am anyone special to be spared but I pray that if it is my time to die, then God will take me home by some other quicker and less agonizing route. He is also telling me again to “take up my bed and walk”. I am asking Him if this is from Him or is it wishful thinking from my subconscious mind? Time will tell. I am asking sincerely for God to show me if this is from Him or from me.
June 1st, 2008:
I focus on negative thoughts and get depressed. My PSA test is coming up. What will it be? Will the Lupron still be working or will I be resistant already? I find myself getting depressed and very angry. I am self-absorbed with my disease. Even if the PSA is OK will the cancer come back with a vengeance as it did before with a short doubling time? My mind is totally off God and on my disease. I plead with God not to let me die of this. Am I not forgetting all the lessons He has taught me these years and months and all He has spoken and written in His Word? I got angry with Marie today after church and just wanted to be left alone with my prospects. I need Jesus. I have nothing else. I am attaching myself to Him. But why do I let myself get so bound with fear? I need to read my Scripture verses and count on them. It’s all on what I focus!!!!!
June 3rd, 2008:
I am blessed with a praying and loving wife. I gave my blood today. Marie and I did not take time to read our devotionals this morning and it showed. Today was a day where I labored under a cloud. Thoughts were not of God, Jesus or trust in them, but I was still focusing on fear of the future, imagining the next step of chemotherapy after androgen deprivation (hormonal) therapy (ADT) fails. I also began keeping a listing of new research developments as they related to new prostate cancer drugs in various phases of development. That night, I was still in a negative mood and Marie prayed instead of me. She always lifts me before God’s throne. I am so grateful for a praying wife. I went to bed singing the old hymn “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.
June 4th, 2008:
Good PSA news. I am awaiting my PSA results but have come to realize sadly that my trust is NOT in the Lord. I am just too anxious. If I were trusting God for this result, I would have the peace that accompanies such trust. How do I learn to release this to the Lord and trust Him? I used to say that I visualize carrying this burden and laying it down at Jesus’ feet. Can I do this and truly say “not my will but Thine be done?” I am a weak, miserable failure when it comes to trust. I always focus on and expect the worst scenario. I am just like my father. Is it hereditary? I had to read my devotionals before calling for the PSA result.
Streams in the Desert for June 4th quotes Exodus 14:21, “All that night the Lord drove the sea back”. God was at work during darkness. The Israelites finally saw the evidence of God’s working the next day when they could cross the Red Sea on dry land. I am definitely in a dark place. I may have some faith to see but am not seeing. I lack victory in this faith area. But God is still working “all that night”. I may not see it yet but through the night of my life, as I trust Him, He continues His work. “All that night, O child of sorrow, can you not your heartbreak stay? Know your God in darkest midnight works, as well as in the day.” (From Streams in the Desert, June 4th).
At 4 PM, I got the word that my PSA was <0.1 or undetectable. What a burden lifter. God is so faithful. I went to 2-3 stores and was asked each clerk “how are you?” God reminded me to acknowledge Him in all my ways, so I said I was having a great day and that Jesus was the reason. One of the clerks nodded and smiled very approvingly. How can I avoid going through the fear and trepidation in 2-3 months when we measure PSA again??????
From my pastor at the news of my PSA. “This week- OKAY! ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’ I feel you are! I don’t believe your earthly healing is the primary issue on the heart of God. His heart is for you to seize each day and live it to the fullest, fulfilling His plans for you today! (as it is for all of us). If He gives you tomorrow, great! It will be another day to serve and glorify Him. I feel you are seeking to live like this, and He is confirming to you to continue to do so. Do not focus on the healing or any report–just take those matters as they come. For now, live for Christ today, and trust Him to lead you. Those are the thoughts on my heart. Love you brother, Pastor Jim.”
June 16th, 2008:
Intermittent hormonal therapy advice. I met with my Florida urologist who at the recommendation of my Johns Hopkins urologist-surgeon recommended I go off Lupron at least until October and then see what my PSA would be. I notified my Hopkins urologist of my result and he responded that “Glad to hear about the PSA. I recently reviewed some studies on intermittent hormonal therapy for the Prostate Bulletin. The patients offered this treatment ended up being on Lupron for about a year, and off it for about two years during a three year cycle. That doesn’t sound too bad.” I honestly do not know what will happen in my case. If God has truly said to me “this is the time to take up your bed and walk”, then perhaps this is the time when God/Jesus will truly reveal his actions through me. In any event, I keep acknowledging God according to Proverbs 3:5-6 and trusting that He has a unique plan and that I will not die of this disease. I plead not!!!!
Can God use me in my situation? Messages from my wife and a former colleague. In a related issue, my wife Marie is in the midst of preparing to teach a course in our church called “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby. She had seen one of his video talks and was reminded to share it with me. She thinks it applies directly to me. In the talk, Dr. Blackaby states that God is always doing something; He is never static, always dynamic. In my case, God/Jesus has a plan to show Himself to a number of physicians as the Healer and Savior. Whenever God has such a plan, He always implements it through a human e.g. Moses. When he does this, God usually provides some insight as to what His intentions are to the human “messenger”. When He reveals some of the details to the human, the person experiences a “crisis of faith”, almost disbelieving that God is truly going to use that person in the manner He has described. Marie thinks this applies to me. God is to reveal Himself to any one or more of a number of physicians through my illness. God/Jesus has shared a portion of this with me through my own experiences. When He did, I found it hard to believe Him, questioning whether He would truly heal me or deliver me. I seem to be following the Blackaby pattern. In a similar context, a former colleague at the National Cancer Institute-National Institutes of Health e mailed me the following response when I shared my PSA result with him. “I am so thankful to hear of your continued good PSA results!! God definitely has His hand upon you. I am convinced more and more that God speaks to us directly and clearly more often than we realize; but our doubt and business gets in the way. You are right in seeking confirmation as Satan is the great deceiver. But I wonder, do you think the paralytic with the mat asked for confirmation? Or was His healing at that time enough for Him to obey.?… I do rejoice with you and can’t help but think of the loving faith of your friends who have cut a hole in the ceiling and lifted you down to the feet of the healing Lord in prayer! God is great!” It seems my colleague and others have been visualizing lowering me to Jesus through the hole in the roof as recorded in the Gospels. I often have visualized this as I have prayed for someone else for healing.
A new thought: God and Jesus have two main goals for our lives: a) to glorify Him in everything and, b) to work everything for our own (and therefore God’s own) good. Everything revolves around these two goals.
June 22nd, 2008:
How to gain victory over fearful thoughts. A sermon by my Pastor Jim on 6/22 from Psalm 62. Controlling the thoughts that produce worry and faithlessness. God is speaking from His Word about His ongoing refinement in us, purging out worry and fear and replacing those sinful ways with faith and His peace-His rest for our souls. Key verses are found in Psalm 62,1-2, “Find rest O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (This is real security). The New American Standard cites verses 1-2 this way, “My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” When I need God’s peace of mind, I need to hear God speak to me. I need quiet, stillness, contentment and calm. Can I get it? Yes, see verse 1, “Find rest O my soul, in God alone”. Where? See verse 2. “He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” What I need is security (I will never be shaken). I will never waver, I will never slip, fall, be carried away or be cast down. Can I get this security? Yes. “He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” When my mind is in turmoil, I need to do three things.
1) I need to hear God speak to me. See Psalm 62, v. 11-12; “Once God has spoken, twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God; and loving kindness is Thine O Lord.” God is saying to me that He is both strong and loving to handle my situations. If I am still, I can hear God speak. He speaks to my soul (verses 5-6). I am then to adopt a confession of faith as expressed in verses 1-2. My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation (healing, deliverance, protection, maintaining me until my life is over etc.) comes from Him. “He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be shaken.” See also Psalm 139:1-10.
2) I also need to talk to my soul when I am in turmoil. See verses 5-6; “My soul, wait in silence for God only for my hope is from Him; He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.” (See also Ephesians 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 1:20.) Also Psalm 42:5, “Why are you so downcast (in despair) O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
3) I need to adopt a confession of faith. “My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
July 1st, 2008:
“Take up my bed”, a word from the Lord. We live in an extremely busy world surrounded by stimuli. Music, radio, TV, daily activities, busy schedules, multi-tasking. But how are we to hear from God? He says to “be still and know that I am God.” This morning I asked Him again if He truly told me to “take up my bed and walk”? The answer came quickly when He said, “what do you think ‘walk’ means?” It means to resume my life and walk through it in such a way as if prostate cancer were not an issue. If I truly should “take up my bed”, I am not to walk thereafter with a limp, favoring one side or the other. I am to walk as if the cancer were not even an issue any more. It has been dealt with to God’s honor and glory. I asked Pastor Jim if he thought this was from God or from me. He quoted Peter Lord who once wrote if you want to hear from God, first be still. Clear your mind and ask God the question. Then write down the first thought that comes to mind. It is often God’s answer.
July 3rd, 2008:
How to handle adversity. An excellent book is “How to Handle Adversity” by Charles Stanley, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. One of the book’s major theme is as follows: God’s purpose is always to conform us to the image of Jesus. And if Jesus prayed “not My will but Thine be done”, then why shouldn’t I pray the same prayer?
August 4th, 2008:
“I’m going to live until I die” is the slogan at Loma Linda University’s prostate cancer treatment center (proton therapy). It is run by 7th day Adventists. In actuality, it is a good slogan but in reality we are going to live just as much after we die. We are to use the “card we are dealt” to glorify God and Jesus and to receive the rewards at some future date in time. “Take up my bed and walk” is becoming more of reality to me. I know I will die at some point of some cause but I am sensing it will not be prostate cancer and that Jesus wants to be glorified and seen by physicians especially through my case. The book of Hebrews states among other things that Jesus was given all authority by the Father and that He was present and active at the time of creation. This equality with God makes it more relevant and living to me that when I see Jewish physicians, I give the healing and sustaining glory to Jesus and to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
September 11th, 2008:
Lessons from a trip to New York. 1) Several thoughts and events have occurred during the last month which I now record here. It had been suggested all along that I write a book. But a book has an ending which I have not approached as yet. I wondered how to format my experiences and then one night while showering, it came to me to start a website wherein I could record my ongoing story. You are reading the result.
2) During August, 2008, we visited Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle on Long Island, NY, and heard a fine sermon entitled “The Desolate Place”, using the text when Jesus fed the 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish. The major points were that when Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us and His power and character, He brings us to a desolate place where there are no distractions, only Jesus. He did this in this passage. That is where He fed the multitude, He feeds us, provides for us, and speaks to us, i.e. where there are no distractions. This seems to coincide with when He spoke to me above saying “take up my bed and walk”. I had a blank mind at that point. No preconceived thoughts or schemes. When we want to hear from Jesus, we should get alone with Him with no distractions. “Be still and know that I am God.”
3) It also dawned on me that Jesus always speaks to us (me) from or through His Word. This is a recurring theme. And when He told me to “take up my bed and walk”, it was using the words of scripture. This is also true when He said “Reach out and touch the hem of His garment” and “go and show myself to the physicians.” It was always through His Word.
4) Hebrews 6:15 states “after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” A commentary stated that “believing faith leads to realization.” There are people who say that if you have enough faith, God will give you the desires of your heart, healing etc. If you don’t get healed, you might not have had enough faith??? Again this is putting faith in faith itself not in Jesus or God and His plan. Did God promise me healing and/or deliverance or not to die of prostate cancer? Are the words I heard truly promises??? While I am 90% sure that Jesus spoke these words to me, can I take them as His promises and be like Abraham, who clung to God’s promise to him even though he was old? I wish I could be sure. I lean toward trusting God completely on His Word and counting them as promises to me but I find I cannot say this with 100% certainty. I am not as anxious about my next PSA test in early October as before, but I am still somewhat anxious and cannot help but think how I will react if it comes back positive, i.e. that the PSA is no longer undetectable. Will I be able to simply say “not my will but Thine be done”?? I long to able to say with Job “yea though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!”
5) In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, verse 7 states that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.” The In Touch magazine for Sept. 11th, 2008 states as follows about brokenness. If we are consistently blessed, we tend to think that God exists for us and not that we exist for Him. We ask Him for healing and blessings but many times we are not asking for God Himself but replacing Him with a cosmic errand boy. We tell Him what we want and we send Him off to get it for us. We are actually the center of such prayers, it certainly is not God. Therefore, the end result is a belief that God exists for our benefit and not vice versa. This distortion breaks God’s heart and leads us away from knowing Him and who He truly is. The antidote for this self-centeredness is brokenness. When God takes away instead of adding, we learn to live with His provisions alone, thus resulting in keeping our eyes on Him and His loving care.
September 12th, 2008:
I need to focus on things with eternal value. I need to be more in a state of anticipation about eternity and the prospect of spending it in a new heaven and a new earth with a new body for an infinite amount of time. Our entire lives are spent anticipating something to come. For example, birthdays, teen years, graduations, dates, marriage, career, children and family, etc. But when we retire, what do we then anticipate? This was the theme of my retirement speech at the NCI-NIH in October, 2006. I need to look ahead and get excited about the prospect of eternal life with a new body.
September 15th, 2008:
God still heals or maintains us even with cancer. As I was anticipating my upcoming PSA test, I was again wondering with a little uncertainty whether or not Jesus had actually spoken to me when He said that now was the time to take up my bed and walk. So I prayed sincerely for some confirmation one way or the other. One hears so little about people being healed of cancer these days. Instead it’s the reverse; more and more people are getting the disease. Within a couple of days I received a “confirmatory” message. During last Sunday’s service, a tribute was presented to a specific couple who had served faithfully for many years. As I have mentioned 1-2 years ago, the husband (John) had been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and was given 3-4 months to live. He is still alive 19 years later. God had used him as a “confirmatory” message earlier and now seems to be using him again. Yes, God still does heal, deliver or maintain chronic metastatic cancer patients.
September 22nd, 2008:
“Did God really say that?” When I doubt if Jesus indeed spoke to me, it reminds of Satan’s trick in Genesis when he asked Eve “has God really said that?” pertaining to eating of the forbidden fruit. I believe that God did speak to me and when I doubt, it is like Satan tempting me with the same question. My PSA is to be done next week. My intense prayer is that it be undetectable.!!
What can we learn from cancer? In an unrelated matter, I recently read an excellent article written by a missionary wife who was stricken with breast cancer and died. It tells what she had learned about God while battling this disease. Her battle with cancer had the following effects:
1) Cancer taught her to surrender completely to God’s will.
2) Cancer is something she could not control.
3) Cancer made her long for heaven.
4) Cancer allowed her to experience the love of Christ through her fellow-believers, the body of Christ on earth.
5) Cancer brought her closer to God.
6) Cancer taught her how to practice the presence of God.
Reference: “Cancer, my Teacher” by the late Tami Palumbo, published in Faith and Fellowship, Sept-Oct. 2008, Lutheran Brethren Press, Fergus Falls, MN and posted on CaringBridge.org.
September 27th, 2008:
Facts vs. feelings. When feeling anxious, depressed and “what if” prior to my PSA test, I have to instead choose between facing my feelings or facing the facts of God as enumerated in His Word. My feelings are as uncertain and changing as the shifting sea sand. God’s words are as unchangeable and certain as the Rock of Ages Himself- “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Biblical faith is composed of trusting in, relying on, confiding in and having confidence in God and Jesus. The condition of “what if’s” is indicative of fear.
September 30th, 2008:
Satan’s lies and deception don’t change. I sit here with tightness in my stomach and the “what ifs” running through my mind awaiting the results of my PSA test. I will be calling the doctor for my results later this afternoon. But even this morning as I read my devotionals, God through the Holy Spirit seems to be trying to get my attention. For example, Charles Stanley’s In Touch addressed the issue of “using a wrong approach”. His text was Genesis 3:1-8 where Satan disguised as the serpent asks Eve “has God said ‘you shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’” I have noted this before that Satan always questions whether or not God has truly spoken through me through His Word (remember God speaks through His Word). But this time, I noticed something further on in verse 4-5. Satan is now disputing the potential outcome that God has ordained when Satan says “you shall not surely die” if you eat the forbidden fruit. In verses 4-5 Satan is predicting a false outcome. How do I relate to this? I believe God has spoken to me and if so, then the outcome will be positive pertaining to my prostate cancer. (I know I will eventually have to die of something else). Yet Satan or my own fleshly thoughts keep telling me the opposite. Has God really spoken to me??? Did He really say “take up your bed and walk?” And yet in my mind I am conjuring all these thought about dying in intense pain, committing suicide if necessary, thoughts that are exactly opposite to what God is telling me. I desperately need God’s peace and the ability to say from the depths of my mind and body, “not my will but Thine be done.” Just as it is written in Philippians 4:6-7, (which I found in today’s Moody Bible Institute “Today in the Word” devotional), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I am planning to get my results this afternoon. Tune in later!!!!… The walk of faith is fighting to believe not to doubt.
October 1st, 2008:
Good news!!! Praise the name of Jesus!!!! The PSA result came back as undetectable (<0.1). I have circulated an e mail widely about the result, how Jesus spoke from John 5:8 and about the website I am creating. I am so relieved that Jesus is right in the midst of this situation and using it for His glory. May I be a faithful bond-servant and steward.
October 8th, 2008:
A chance to share with a sensitive physician. I had my 3 month appointment with my Florida urologist. He is a bright and sensitive man trained at Georgetown. He was very happy to see my PSA and told me I was in remission. I prayed before I saw him that if God wanted me to share with him, I would be given the opportunity. As soon as my urologist mentioned remission, I told him about my website, and how God/Jesus had spoken to me when the Lupron was discontinued. I mentioned what Jesus said from John when He healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. He listened very attentively and openly. Upon my leaving, he gave me a real positive look as if he were thinking, “this case is really interesting; there is something different going on here.” May Jesus be seen through this.
October 10th, 2008:
A song of Thanksgiving. After sharing my good health news and what Jesus had told me about “taking up my bed and walk” with my Florida urologist and orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday and Thursday, today’s Daily Bread devotional was so pertinent. It quoted Psalm 105:1-6 which state: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him, talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, O seed of Abraham, His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
October 19th, 2008:
How to pray the prayer of faith. I found the following from an old sermon by Pastor Jim entitled “How to Pray the Prayer of Faith.” The steps are:
1) Humble myself before God; kneel; give Him honor; revere Him; take no pride on my behalf;
2) Express love to God;
3) Believe; all things are possible;
4) Ask or request in all honesty, with no personal agenda;
5) Submit to His will- He knows best- Acknowledge His will be done.
October 20th, 2008:
Another faith test. My testosterone value is now 73 nanograms/deciliter (ng/dL). In February, 2008, it was less than 20 ng/dL. Lupron basically inhibits production of testosterone. Now that there is no Lupron in my body, I would expect my testosterone levels to rise again. But will my PSA begin to rise????? Probably. Today I received my testosterone result and initially I began the usual chain of negative thinking. The testosterone is rising, therefore, the PSA will begin to rise shortly. But am I forgetting what Jesus told me? Yes. If indeed He has healed me or will keep me chronic, this will either not happen or I will continue to remain asymptomatic. Meanwhile, I have been able to counsel two friends who are battling prostate cancer. One of them is in Norway and is undergoing a radical prostatectomy surgery next week (PSA of 18). He is a fairly young (50’s) physician.
October, 30th, 2008:
A battle in my thought life and emotions. Today I went to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and met with my urinary oncologist there. Moffitt has been designated as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center, signifying that it is fairly cutting-edge. My oncologist had been specifically recommended to me by a former high-ranking colleague at the NCI and he is extremely knowledgeable. Even though I was carrying good news about my PSA, my mood was very depressed all day for some reason. The oncologist spoke at length about his research, his business, and informed me that my PSA should start to rise again within a year of withdrawing Lupron therapy. He mentioned that Moffitt investigators were participating in a Phase 1 clinical trial of a potential prostate cancer treatment involving the immune system. After considering participation, I decided against it as Phase 1 studies rarely demonstrate any efficacy and are merely toxicity studies. I mentioned my website to him and what Jesus told me about ‘taking up my bed and walk’ but the oncologist just listened and smirked. He is not buying it at all. It was as if he was saying “enjoy your hormone holiday; I know what’s to come and it isn’t pretty.” My being there today sapped me of all my faith and trust and put me right back in the category of potential clinical trials as my only option. Thoughts of being healed or maintained in a chronic condition were absent today. How do I dispense these negative depressing thoughts when they occur? I am not sure. It is certainly easier said than done. I have to learn to take control of them. This has to be a major topic of the website as I am sure other men go through the same thing even though Jesus may have not spoken to them as directly as He has spoken to me. But one bright spot happened. I used to attend a Wednesday prayer meeting at church attended by 6-7 men and maybe 1-2 women. Tonight, one of the regular attendees told that last night, one of the women complained bitterly about leg pains and injury. During their prayer time, her leg began to shake vigorously and she stood up completely healed of her problem. I took that as evidence of the fact that God/Jesus is still in the healing business. I have received this kind of immediate confirmation several times before. But how to shake these gloomy, depression thoughts!!!!! To be continued.
November 6th, 2008:
We reap what we sow even if it takes a long time to see consequences. Today I was diagnosed with mild-moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema. My small airways are only working at 35% efficiency while the larger ones are working at mid 60% efficiency. I will be going for a pulmonary workup. It dawned on me that all my physical problems could have their origins in my sin and/or rebellion. Prostate cancer may have had its origins in chronic prostatitis (I had experienced a prostate infection at the age of 18 which had been treated and cured). My hip/pelvis situation had its origin in my 1990 accident in which rebellion played a role. My COPD certainly had its origin in my 30-year smoking habit of 1959-1989. And finally even my mild incontinence (though only a nuisance) had its origins in surgeries related to prostate cancer, and hip/pelvic surgery. So the principle of reaping and sowing holds true. It may take many years to see the consequences but we always reap what we sow. Galations 6:7 says “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.”. I pray that God does not give me what I deserve but in His mercy, He continues to maintain my health until He takes me home. May I also be sorry for my sin not just because I am reaping negative consequences but because it violates God’s perfect plan and will for me. But on the positive side, I did quit smoking with God’s help when He told me to quit in 1989. So perhaps He will not let this disease progress too much further. The doctors are optimistic it can be controlled.
November 12th, 2008:
I am at imminent risk without God’s intervention. PSA doubling times. I read an article (summarized below) published on April 9th, 2007 from the Mayo Clinic entitled “PSA Doubling Predicts Prostate Cancer Recurrence”. The article describes the rate of doubling of PSA measurement as a prognostic indicator of the severity of one’s prostate cancer. Since my PSA was doubling every three months, I realized I was in a category where I am in imminent danger of dying from this disease.
A detectable level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the first indicator of recurrent prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy. In a new Mayo Clinic study, the concept of PSA doubling time (DT) is found to be a reliable tool to distinguish which patients have prolonged innocuous PSA levels after therapy from those who are at great risk for disease recurrence and death from prostate cancer. Doubling time is defined as the duration for PSA levels in the blood to increase by 100 percent.
Mayo’s study, published in the April, 2007 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, concludes that patients with a PSA doubling time of less than three months after therapy are at imminent risk of death from prostate cancer. Patients with a doubling time of three to 12 months are at a significant risk for the development of systematic disease and cancer-specific death.
According to the authors, the new findings should prompt physicians whose patients have doubling times of less than one year to treat them with systematic therapies. Patients with PSA doubling times of one to 10 years are more likely to have a local rather than systematic recurrence, and patients with a PSA doubling time of greater than 10 years are at a low risk of recurrence.
Authors of the study are Michael Blute, M.D.; Matthew Tollefson, M.D.; and Bradley Leibovich, M.D., all from the Mayo Clinic Department of Urology; and Jeffrey Slezak from Mayo’s Division of Biostatistics.
November 13th, 2008:
My faith should not rest in the wisdom of man but in the power of God. Yesterday, I read the above journal article again citing that PSA doubling time puts me in imminent danger of dying of prostate cancer. I again focused on man’s wisdom. It made me very uncomfortable. Then, just as God has done before, He sent me a message that He is still on the case and that my faith should not rest in the wisdom of man but in the power of God as expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:5. Today, I received a call from a woman whom I had known since my teens. She has lung cancer. She has potential metastases. Today she got a clean bill of health. PET scans revealed no visible tumors. She called this morning to tell me. Why does God seem to deliver some and not others? I do not know. But I took this as a specific answer from God that “see, I am still in charge and will perform what I have promised.”
November 23rd, 2008:
The prayer of faith. In my Pastor Jim’s sermon, “The Prayer of Faith”, Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. The book of James states that the prayer of faith shall restore the sick. In the garden before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed (in Matthew 26:36-46) asking God to remove this cup if possible. In His humanity, Jesus was feeling weak but in doing so He did not sin. Faith is: a) to believe in, b) trust in, c) rely on, d) confide in and e) have confidence in God and His Word.
The prayer of faith includes: a) Loving God; I approach God as my Abba Father (daddy). See Matthew 7:11. I have an intimate relationship with God just as I had with my earthly dad.
b) Asking Him (as a Father) for what I want; can this cup be taken from me? Sometimes the answer is “yes” (Acts 4:24-31) and sometimes “no” (2 Cor. 12:8-9). God has ulterior purposes; I should glory in my infirmities.
c) Submitting to Him; I trust Him for whatever I need. “Yet not as I will but as you will”.
d) Asking Him again if needed for my benefit but He heard me the first time. See Matt. 26: 42, 44.
At the end of Pastor Jim’s sermon, God reminded me that when I fail to believe He has/will either heal me or keep me chronic to His glory, and I keep coming back asking for a sign or confirmation, it is like me going to my earthly father time and time again asking for the same thing. God reminded me that He heard me the first time but was happy to send me reminders (e.g. a friend’s healing) that He still heals and has heard my prayer the first time.
December 12th, 2008:
Winning Battles of the Mind. The following is excerpted from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine, http://www.intouch.org.
Break the chain of thought-bondage by submitting your concerns to God.
It’s 10 p.m. Alone in your bed, you close your eyes and try to rest. The room is cool, and the night is still. Yet, sleep is unreachable. A barrage of thoughts floods your mind—problems of the present day, issues from the past, and concerns for the future. This relentless state of thinking plagues victims with unproductive, nagging thoughts—thoughts that are not edifying to God, others, or themselves. This affliction affects many people. Exhausted from over-thinking, they withdraw from normal activity to wrestle with anxiety for many hours at a time.
To break this chain of “thought-bondage,” you must first take inventory of your thoughts. If your thought life is causing you to feel worried, tense, anxious, or depressed, it’s time for a change. Generally, unproductive thoughts follow a clear pattern.
Stage one: A problem/concern/issue enters your mind.
Stage two: When no clear solution comes to mind, you begin to experience negative feelings (worry, fear, stress, guilt).
Stage three: Negative feelings take root and produce anxiety, tension and/or depression as you frantically try to resolve the problem yourself.
To effectively combat the ill-effects of stages two and three, we must learn to submit our concerns to God in stage one. The longer we hold on to the idea that we’re capable of solving our own problems without God’s help, the more risk we run of becoming trapped in a negative thought pattern. If our thoughts are truly submitted to God, negative feelings should disappear in the palms of His capable hands.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses the battles of the mind. He praises the church at Corinth for their mental successes, saying, “The fourth chapter of the book of Philippians provides an insightful glance into the ideal state of mental “health” God intended for his children. Beginning in verse four, we’re first encouraged to rejoice in the Lord always. Next, we’re instructed to be anxious for nothing, but rather, to lift our concerns to God in prayer and supplication (v. 6). Finally, we’re encouraged to dwell on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy and of good repute (v. 8). According to these words from God, is it acceptable to obsess over problems, worries, and fears? Absolutely not. Instead, we should leave our burdens with God and turn our thoughts to positive things.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing that raises up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What does it mean to take a thought “captive”? It means we are to examine and compare each thought we have against the standard of thinking God set for us.
How can unproductive thought patterns be put down before they begin? Our best defense is the Word of God. The more time we spend studying and learning the truth of the Scriptures, the more prepared we’ll be for our next mental attack. Take, for example, the powerful words of Romans 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Satan likes nothing more than to distract believers from seeking God. One of his most common and successful tactics is to entangle believers’ minds with negative thoughts. If our minds are divided with problems, we’ll be unable to put God first. Do not be tricked by Satan’s schemes. Instead, trust in the One who can provide total peace.
No matter how difficult our circumstances seem, no matter how tempting it is to sit around wondering how to solve our own problems, the Bible tells us we’re not to take these burdens upon ourselves. Worry, anxiety, fear, and depression are not of God, and He can provide deliverance from these paralyzing conditions. Take the words of 1 Peter 5:7 to heart: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God loves you infinitely and perfectly. He never intended for you to walk through valleys of fear, insecurity, and uncertainty alone. He’s the Great Shepherd waiting to guide you and direct your path (Proverbs 3:6).
Give your mind a vacation from worry by turning negative thoughts immediately over to God. When Satan tempts you to take matters into your own hands, lift up this simple prayer, “Lord, I cannot handle this situation on my own. I submit my concerns to You. Help me release my negative thoughts and trust You completely. Amen.”
December 17th, 2008:
Hearing the Word and putting my faith in it must be coupled. Hebrews 4:2 says that for some the message of the gospel is not accepted because even though they hear the word, they do not couple it with faith, i.e. they do not put their faith in the word they have read or heard. I cannot uncouple the words that I have heard and read from my faith. If I believe Jesus or God spoke them or wrote them, I must then have faith in them otherwise they will have no consequence. Couple faith and the word together.